In The Know: Boren, backers file education penny tax petition

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today In The News

Boren, Backers File Education Penny Tax Petition: University of Oklahoma President David Boren, along with supporters, filed paperwork for a petition drive with the state of Oklahoma Wednesday, calling for a dedicated, one-cent statewide sales tax for education. Boren, former governor and U.S. senator for Oklahoma, called on voters statewide to support the measure, which he has said could raise $615 million a year [Oklahoma Watch].

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, Tulsa Superintendent Deborah Gist on A-F school grade card release: The Oklahoma State Department of Education is set to release the latest A-F school grade cards Thursday, but for the first time, the announcement won’t be heralded by the state’s top elected education leader. Questioning the validity and usefulness of the existing school grading system was a major theme of Joy Hofmeister’s successful 2014 campaign to unseat then-State Superintendent Janet Barresi [Tulsa World]. Newcomer Deborah Gist described the cards as a necessary bureaucratic exercise that doesn’t reflect student growth in Tulsa schools [Tulsa World].

Insurers required to issue earthquake coverage clarification: Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak said Tuesday he is requiring property and casualty insurers to send each policyholder a clarification notice of earthquake coverage.  Doak said the decision is in response to the number of questions still surrounding Oklahoma’s earthquake insurance coverage. Most homeowner’s policies do not include earthquake coverage. If a homeowner wants coverage, it is generally required they purchase an earthquake endorsement in addition to their homeowner’s policy [Enid News].

Oklahoma lottery’s contribution to education reaches new low: Oklahoma’s Lottery Education Trust Fund contributed $65.4 million to the most recent state budget, divided between K-12 public schools, Career Tech, and higher education. Out of that $65.4 million, $29.4 million went to the state aid formula for public schools and another $6.5 million went to other funds that support K-12 education. Yet Oklahoma’s total funding for the state aid formula has been cut by $172 million since fiscal year 2008. The gain from the lottery is barely more than one-tenth what’s been cut overall [OK Policy].

Amid budget shortfall, lawmakers eye ‘pass-through’ funding: Facing an expected budget shortfall next year, Oklahoma lawmakers on Wednesday took a close look at some of the roughly $3.6 billion in state-appropriated funds that pass through various state agencies and are spent on other programs. Members of House and Senate budget committees met in a joint meeting to discuss the so-called “pass-through” funding and its implications on the budget [Journal Record].

Time for hard questions: This month Gov. Mary Fallin has been touring Oklahoma to encourage donations to her Feeding Oklahoma food drive. Now in its sixth year, the initiative has generated 12 million meals for the hungry statewide and helped stock food banks and food pantries. Hunger is a pervasive and persistent problem in Oklahoma. Some one in six households are without reliable access to a sufficient amount of affordable, nutritious food. This forces families to make budgetary trade-offs no one should have to make. Food or rent? Food or transportation? Food or medicine? [David Blatt / Journal Record]

Lawmakers discuss fallout from prison overcrowding: Oklahoma lawmakers on Wednesday discussed an increased use of private prisons and enhanced computer technology as ways to grapple with the state’s continually growing prison population. Facing a budget hole in the upcoming fiscal year that is expected to far surpass $500 million, members of the House Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee learned the state’s prison population is expected to grow by about 800 inmates by the end of June [Journal Record]. 

Tulsa Police Chief Joins National Group Urging Reduced Incarceration: Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan is among 130 current and former law enforcement officials nationwide who have joined a new organization aimed at reducing incarceration. The group, Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, includes police chiefs, sheriffs, federal and state prosecutors and other law enforcement leaders from all states and the nation’s largest cities. Jordan is the only member from Oklahoma [Oklahoma Watch].

Oklahoma chosen for program to improve child health habits: Oklahoma is among five states participating in a program that helps child care programs foster healthy eating and physical activity habits in young children. The Oklahoma Department of Health will be working in various counties to implement the program, which helps child care programs improve their menus and mealtimes, increase opportunities for active playtime and make other healthy changes [WKRG].

Quote of the Day

“Out of our 17 state correctional institutions, 15 work centers and six community corrections centers, only a small number of them were built as correctional facilities. The others are retrofitted boys’ homes, mental health facilities, motels or some other facility. Those that were built as correctional facilities weren’t meant to hold the volume that we’re housing. This places a strain on infrastructure and is posing a major concern.”

– Marilyn Davidson, a legislative liaison for the Department of Corrections. The state’s prisons house over 28,000 inmates and are currently operating at 112 percent capacity (Source)

Number of the Day


The annual amount of money spent by public school systems per secondary education student in Oklahoma. This is $3,028 less than the national average.

Source: 2013 Survey of School System Finances.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How to Get Around a Criminal Record: In May, a federal judge in Brooklyn took the extraordinary step of expunging the conviction of a woman he had sentenced to five years of probation more than a decade earlier for her involvement in an insurance fraud scheme that netted her $2,500. Calling her “a minor participant in a nonviolent crime,” a Federal District Court judge, John Gleeson, decried the “dramatic adverse impact” that the woman’s conviction had on her ability to get a job to support her four children. “There is no justification for continuing to impose this disability on her,” Judge Gleeson wrote. “I sentenced her to five years of probation supervision, not to a lifetime of unemployment.” [New York Times]

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Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

One thought on “In The Know: Boren, backers file education penny tax petition

  1. It may not be easy to see at first glance but all your linked stories today–lack of revenue, decrepit and inadequate state services and performance–are connected by the two stories on OK’s overincarceration, which was predicted 20 years ago when Cal Hobson and Dwayne Steidley led the effort to get OK prison costs under control before the drain swirling already occurring in OK got out of control. That effort was fought and ultimately defeated by state DAs, law enforcement, and victims’ “representatives” who only spoke for the small portion who placed vengeance above sense and who ended up with higher crime and victimization rates as a result. Your stories yesterday on the 2 OK County DAs censured, not suspended, just like the good old days when Bob Macy wracked up a couple dozen censures from federal courts and continued on his merry wasteful way, showed once again the quality and performance of OK prosecutors who have among the very worst public safety records in the nation but insist that sentencing and corrections reform would hurt their power and prestige . . . uh, sorry, the state’s public safety. Even better, when the current AG is OK’s governor after the next election, his chief of staff will be one of the major organizers/mouthpieces against the Hobson/Steidley reforms. Those reforms, btw, were enacted and implemented in NC the year before OK and resulted since in higher crime rate declines in the last two decades than the national average. OK’s crime rate decline is well below the national average in the same period. Long story short, OK had a chance to do something intelligent about overincarceration and its predictable drain on state resources long ago. Instead, now again, it’s talking about more use of private prisons that make profits on overincarceration and virtually certain to elect opponents to intelligent change yet again. And it will never make the connections to all the related stories that you will continue to post for the next decade. (At least we hope you’ll still be there in a decade.)

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